Schalke head coach Domenico Tedesco is keen to manage expectations around Rabbi Matondo ahead of the teenager’s highly anticipated reunion with Manchester City in the Champions League.
Matondo joined Schalke from City last month for a fee reported to be in the region of £11million despite never featuring for Pep Guardiola’s first-team.
The 18-year-old followed the trail blazed by England international Jadon Sancho from the City academy to the Bundesliga and told iNews the promise of greater opportunities was key to his decision.
“I was at the club for two and a half years, I didn’t break into the first team. I was inspiring myself to try and break into that first team but it didn’t happen,” Matondo said.
“Of course, Manchester City’s a great football club, great players, great manager, so there’s nothing I could say bad about them. I’m just grateful that Schalke said they’d give me opportunities and that’s what I’m getting right now, more than I would have at City.”
The Wales international has played three times since moving to Schalke and was handed a full Bundesliga debut in Saturday’s goalless draw with Freiburg.
Nevertheless, Tedesco was keen not to fuel an intriguing narrative ahead of game his team enter as underdogs.
“He was born in 2000. We have followed the player for a long time, and we had a good feeling about him from the start,” he said.
“He’s a very young player. We, and he, need patience.”
— Rabbi Matondo (@rabbi_matondo) February 18, 2019
On Schalke’s chances of overcoming the reigning Premier League champions in the last-16 clash, Tedesco said: “Of course we believe in a victory. We are the underdog, we are clearly not the favourites.
“But nevertheless, we deserved to make it through to the last 16 and were competitive against strong teams in the group phase. We managed to achieve 11 points in our group.
“But we know Manchester City are a strong team to oppose. We need to have our best day.”
Tedesco confirmed club captain Ralf Fahrmann will get the nod over Alexander Nubel, while midfielder Nabil Bentaleb is expected to be available.
“That’s the good news of this week that Nabil Bentaleb has no pain anymore,” he added, having recently called into question the former Tottenham player’s attitude. “He is without pain so should be fit.”
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